Reader in Film and Media Studies, Department of Japan and Korea
Academic Staff, Japan Research Centre
Academic Staff, Centre of Korean Studies
- Dr Isolde Standish
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As a graduate of (Hollywood and European) Film and Media Studies in 1984, I found myself seeking new directions, both academic and geographical, to launch my post-graduate studies. As chance would have it, I found a teaching post in Japan where I discovered a fascinating and often different way of representing the world through cinema. My curiosity then led me to Korea and, more recently, is taking me into World Cinema.
To date, my writing has centred on the history of Japanese Cinema and to a lesser extent, Korean Cinema. I have published three single-authored books along with various journal articles and chapters in edited books. My first book, Myth and Masculinity in the Japanese Cinema: Towards a Political Reading of the Tragic Hero (Routledge/Curzon 2000), drew on gender studies to explore the ‘homosocial’ codes that underpinned Japanese films from the war-retro and yakuza genres as a principal site of audience (mainly male) pleasure. This I then framed within the wider question of how film fixes history as popular memory.
My second book, A New History of Japanese Cinema: a Century of Narrative Film (Continuum 2005) took, as its starting point, the view that the auteur theory, around which much scholarship on Japanese Cinema has been framed, was inadequate to explain how Japanese cinema functioned within Japanese cultural life. In this study, I took an essayistic approach that focused on historical themes central to the economic and social transitions Japan underwent from pre-modern to a post-war industrial market economy – modernism, nationalism, humanism, transgression and censorship.
My third book, Politics, Porn and Protest: Japanese Avant-Garde Cinema in the 1960s and 1970s, also published by Continuum in June 2011, locates the Japanese avant-garde film movement of the 1960s and 1970s as a dissentient intellectual group of filmmakers who saw cinema as an instrument through which to challenge the conservatism of Japanese post-war politics driven by US imperial imperatives – the Japan/US Security Treaty, the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Reacting against realist film movements and adapting Sartrean-derived existentialism (via Sakaguchi Ango), in theoretical terms, they politicised the ‘body’ in what amounted to an assault on social morality, ultimately challenging the censorship laws. In terms of visual style, they problematised the nature of ‘time’ as linear, challenging mainstream conceptions of history as popular memory. Following on from my work on the Japanese avant-garde, I have begun work on my fourth single-authored monograph the title of which is Ōshima Nagisa: the Politics of Cinema.
Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship: a two year sabbatical (commencing 1 September, 2015) to complete the study: Oshima Nagisa: A Politics of Cinema.
In Politics, Porn and Protest: Japanese Avant-Garde Cinema in the 1960s and 1970s (2011), I argued that out of the background of war, occupation and the legacies of Japan’s post-defeat politics, there emerged in the 1960s a dissentient group of avant-garde filmmakers who created a counter-cinema that both challenged mainstream conservative domestic and international political policies, and dominant historical interpretations of Japan’s imperialist ambitions on the Asian mainland between 1931 and defeat in the Pacific War in 1945. Ōshima Nagisa (1932-2013) was central to this movement as not only did he experiment with very different conceptions of visual-style that challenged images and narratives dominant in the films of the mainstream ‘major’ studios, he was also a prolific writer and social critic publishing thirteen books and numerous journal articles. In this study, through an analysis of Ōshima’s writings in conjunction with his films and their critical reception in Japan, the aim is to reach an understanding of how Ōshima himself conceptualized and articulated his filmmaking practices and how these practices were informed by his political beliefs, and how his films impacted on and contributed to counter-cultural debates within Japan.
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Politics, Porn and Protest: Japanese Avant-Garde Cinema in the 1960s and 1970s.
New York: Continuum International Publishing Group.
A New History of Japanese Cinema: A Century of Narrative Film.
New York: Continuum.
Myth and Masculinity in the Japanese Cinema: Towards a Political Reading of the Tragic Hero.
Edited Books or Journal Volumes
Standish, Isolde, ed.
Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema Volume 6 Number 1 May 2014.
'Transgression and the Politics of Porn. Oshima Nagisa's In the Realm of the Senses (1976).'
In: Phillips, A. and Stringer, J., (eds.),
Japanese Cinema: Texts and Contexts.
Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 217-228.
'Akira: Postmodernism and Resistance.'
In: Martinez, D.P., (ed.),
The Worlds of Japanese Popular Culture: Gender Shifting Boundaries and Global Culture.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 56-74.
(Contemporary Japanese society)
'The Revolutionary Triptych.'
Kiju Yoshida: Love and Anarchism.
'The Ephemeral as Transcultural Aesthetic: a Contextualization of the Early Films of Ozu Yasujiro.'
Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema, 4 (1).
'The jidaigeki television series: myth, iteration and the domestication of the samurai hero.'
Japan Forum, 23 (3).
'Night and Fog in Japan: Fifty Years On.'
Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema, 1 (2).
'Film and Narrative in the Yakuza Genre.'
Cinemaya, 1 (2).
'Chushingura and the Japanese Studio System.'
Japan Forum, 17 (1).
'Mediators of Modernity: 'Photo-Interpreters' in Japanese Silent Cinema.'
Oral Tradition, 20 (1).
'Korean Cinema and the New Realism: Text and Context.'
East-West Film Journal, 7 (2).